The Battle of Potatoes: Sweet vs. White

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to enjoy a comfort-food classic… potatoes!  Potatoes (white that is) are one of the most prevalent vegetables eaten by Americans; usually in the form of french fries or potato chips.

We often hear that sweet potatoes are a better choice compared to white, but ever wonder what the nutritional or health differences are between a sweet potato and a white potato?  Let’s break it down by comparing a medium sized sweet potato and white potato each baked without salt and eating both flesh and skin…

Sweet Potato                            White Potato
Calories 103 Calories 161
Vitamin A  21909 IU Vitamin A 17 IU
Potassium 542 mg Potassium 926 mg
Vitamin C  22.3 mg Vitamin C 16.6 mg
Iron .79 mg Iron  1.87 mg
Magnesium 31 mg Magnesium 48 mg
Fiber 3.8 gm Fiber 3.8 gm

Sweet Potatoes:

The sweet potato not only has more vitamin A/Beta-carotene, an important antioxidant giving this veggie its orange glow, but it also has less calories and a lower glycemic index which means it has a slower rate of sugar absorption.

Yams? Well they are not the same as sweet potatoes. They are actually very different from a sweet potato and often you can see this by its color. The garnet yam for example, has a purple skin and a light yellow flesh. Yams are high in the heart-healthy nutrients B6 and potassium. Yams, like sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber that helps to slow digestion and helps to keep you fuller longer.

White Potatoes:

When eaten in the form of a baked, medium sized potato including the skin and without added salt, butter, sour cream or bacon is actually a healthier choice than you may assume.  It has the same amount of fiber as a sweet potato with skin and even more magnesium, iron, and potassium, an electrolyte linked to helping lower blood pressure.

Keep in mind that to be a healthy choice your potato doesn’t have to be plain!  Try topping it with a small amount of olive oil and your favorite veggies and spices like broccoli and black pepper or chili powder, onion and jalapeno.

Check out these delicious potato recipes:

Enjoy them as a salad..
Sweet and Salty Roasted Veggie Salad

A soup…
Savory Sweet Potato Soup
Saffron Sweet Potato & Rainbow Quinoa Soup

A snack…
Yam “fries”
Sweet Potato and Carrot “fries”
Purple potatoes

A smoothie…
Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

Or a Juice!
Trick or Treat Juice
Carrot Cake Juice
Sweet Potato and Peach Pie Juice

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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